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Safety Alert Notices: News

KN95 Safety Alert

A substantial number of face masks, claiming to be of KN95 standards, provide an inadequate level of protection and are likely to be poor quality products accompanied by fake or fraudulent paperwork. These face masks may also be known as filtering facepiece respirators.

KN95 face mask

KN95 is a performance rating under the Chinese standard GB2626:2006, the requirements of which are broadly the same as the European standard BSEN149:2001+A1:2009 for FFP2 facemasks. However, there is no independent certification or assurance of their quality and products manufactured to KN95 rating are declared as compliant by the manufacturer. 

Personal protective equipment (PPE) cannot be sold or supplied as PPE unless it is CE marked. The only exception is for PPE that is organised by the UK Government for use by NHS or other healthcare workers where assessments have been undertaken by HSE as the Market Surveillance Authority. 

Action required

KN95 must not be used as PPE at work unless their supply has been agreed by HSE as the Market Surveillance Authority.

Masks that are not CE marked and cannot be shown to be compliant must be removed from supply immediately. If these masks have not been through the necessary safety assessments, their effectiveness in controlling risks to health cannot be assured for anyone buying or using them. They are unlikely to provide the protection expected or required.

For those that are CE marked, suppliers must be able to demonstrate how they know the documentation and CE marking is genuine, supported by Notified Body documentation showing compliance with the essential health and safety requirements as required by the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations (EU) 2016/425.

Relevant legal documents

  • Personal Protective Equipment Regulations (EU) 2016/425

  • Personal Protective Equipment (Enforcement) Regulations 2018

Safety Alert Notices: Text
Safety Alert Notices: About

HSE alert notice

BAD PRACTICE! Workers and their employers need to know the risks, plan the work and use the right controls. They clearly didn’t do that in this image. 

Dry cutting concrete, such as in this photo, creates clouds of silica dust, which when breathed in can cause silicosis and lung cancer. 

Find out more about the dangers of silica here:

Safety Alert Notices: Welcome



What Is Silica And Why Is It An Issue?

Crystalline silica is one of the most abundant minerals on earth and is found in varying amounts in almost all types of rock, clay, sand, gravel, and shale. There are many different types of silica, but the most common is quartz.

The HSE estimates that at least 100,000 workers are regularly exposed (daily) but many times more are exposed on a less regular basis (weekly). Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) are particles of crystalline silica that are less than four microns in size, or particulate matter 4 (PM4). PM4-sized particles are so small that they can penetrate deep into the lungs. For comparison, human hair is typically between 70 to 100 microns in diameter.

Silica Dust

The risks and health effects of crystalline silica are well documented, which has shown exposure to cause silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and lung cancer. However, the level of risk is entirely dependant on the amount of exposure, as well as the methods used, duration of the work, and control measures that have been put in place.

Who Is Most At Risk To Silica Exposure?

There are many trades and occupations that may be at risk to silica exposure, with some being more obvious than others.

The occupations with the greatest exposure include:

  • miners

  • construction workers

  • farmers

  • engineers.

You may be exposed to silica dust if your work involves:

  • breaking, crushing, grinding or milling material containing silica dust

  • sand blasting or casting

  • paving, surfacing or cement finishing

  • bricklaying

  • demolition work

  • road construction

  • stonemasonery

  • mineral ore-treating processes

  • manufacture of glass, ceramics, brick, concrete, tile, metals or machinery

Respiratory Protective Equipment Suitable for Work With Silica Dust

RPE requirements will vary depending on the work at hand, but below are the most suitable RPE options for the majority of tasks. It is also worth noting that sandblasting hoods and helmets do not protect the operative against the adverse affects of airborne silica, and that adequate RPE will still need to be worn.

  • Disposable respirators to standards EN149 (type FFP3) or EN1827 (type FMP3)

  • Half masks (to standard EN140) with a P3 filter

Safety Alert Notices: About
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